|December 1, 2006||Goodbye 'Portal Shortall'|
These past two weeks have been all over the place. I was up in Toronto to say goodbye to Greg Shortall (a.k.a. "portal Shortall") and to interview new editorial candidates for Yahoo!'s Canadian Broadband team. As Greg told the candidates we were interviewing to fill his vacated position, "Karaoke makes up about 18% of this job." How true! (Especially when I'm around.)
The day after I returned to LA we moved into our new house (more on this soon), and my mom flew out to visit us from Boston one day later, and the very next day we drove six hours to Prescott, Arizona to see Chris' family for Thanksgiving. It was a lot of fun and a lot of craziness.
posted by Jess Barron @ 6:02 AM
|October 20, 2006||A Very Pregnant Friend Sings 'Papa Don't Preach'|
My Yahoo Broadband team members converged on Santa Monica for our Editorial Summit, and we also celebrated Heather's soon-to-be-born little guy. How did we celebrate? With karaoke, of course. You really haven't lived until you've seen a very pregnant friend or co-worker sing Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach." It was perfect.
LJ sang a song by Donna Summer. Jim sang No Doubt's "Keep on Dancin.'" Dave O sang "(What's so Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding?' Greg sang Weezer's "Sweater Song." Dave C. sang a Creedance Clearwater Revival song. I did my usual Snoop Dogg. (Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of Eric's hardcore version of Pat Benatar, because the camera was out in the car at the beginning...) Check out the pictures.
posted by Jess Barron @ 5:42 AM
|November 12, 2005||Sake Bombs Over Beverly Hills|
Andy is in town visiting from SF, and he met me and the Santa Monica Yahoo! crew at Ariake in Beverly Hills for sushi dinner and many, many bottles of sake, including sake bombs with gold flakes in them (to keep hangovers away!)
You really need to look at Chris' flickr photoset to understand just how the Yahoo! Santa Monica posse rolls. We can't even eat sushi without going completely cray-cray. I put my bright red lipstick on Peter and Yun, everyone wore my cream leather coat, and Andy declared that it was all very different than the Yahoo! get-togethers up in Sunnyvale.
Afterward, around midnight when we all got back to my house in Venice. Kim and Mary Jo brought 30 people over dressed in wigs and flamboyant clothes for a Dance Dance Revolution / Karoke Revolution party. They were their friends, and my Venice-area neighbors who had been drinking all night at The Whaler. This went on until 6a.m. when the beer (and everyone's energy) ran out. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), Chris' camera's battery died around when the party started, though there is this one random pic.
posted by Jess Barron @ 1:55 PM
|October 31, 2005||Can You Distinguish Substance from Fluff?|
Dear fans of math and logic puzzles, I have some questions for you to ponder. If Jess Barron was in New York City for 4 nights and slept no more than 3 hours-per-night (for a grand total of 12 hours of sleep in 3 days):
1. How many fellow journalists did she exchange business cards with during the ONA conference?
2. How many cocktails did she consume?
3. How many hours did she spend in the post-midnight pre-dawn hours running around the city with co-workers and friends?
4. How many seconds was her face in lights on the enormous Reuters billboard in Times Square?
I've been pondering these questions for several hours myself on the plane ride back to the West Coast, and the only answer I can determine is A LOT. If you can provide more specific or accurate answers, perhaps you should consider applying to Mensa. Or perhaps you should stop stalking me.
Contrary to the popular belief of my co-workers (Dave Carpenter, for example), I do usually like to get 6-8 hours of sleep per night under normal circumstances. My body wants that much sleep, and on some greedy nights my brain would probably be happiest with 9-10 hours of sleep. But the problem I run into again and again is that there is generally so much I want to do and sleep merely gets in the way of my ability to get it all done. There are so many people love spending time with, there is so much work I want to accomplish, and there are also numerous personal projects. As a certain boy famously told me back in February 2002 "You have -- as we say in the office -- 'a tendency to overcommit.'"
It's become ever-increasingly true, and it seems like I'll never stop trying to stretch the space-time continuum. My professional work-type duties while in New York included:
My dad's advice when I told him on the phone about the podcasting panel, "Just don't drink too much the night before."
In addition to these professional obligations, I had planned to see my longtime friends Jeff and Lee and also possibly meet Jeremy Abbate who wrote a song called "I Wanna Be as Cool as Jessica Barron" after reading my blog without having ever met me. Of course, there were other friends and people I wanted to meet (including Brooklynite Ted Gesing who created the infamous and much-loved Nutria documentary), but I figured it might be prudent if I focused only on these three. Even though neither one of them has yet to compose a single song in my honor, I gave my scheduling priority to Jeff and Lee since they've been my dear friends for 16 and 10 years, respectively. (I met Jeff when we ran against each other for a student government position in 1989. I met Lee while traveling in Turkey in 1995.) After they've put up with me for so long, it's the least I can do.
I arrived at JFK at 5p.m. on Wednesday, and called Jeff and Lee during my cabride to the hotel (the Hilton on 6th Ave). Jeff took the subway to my hotel and we hungout in my room and raided my mini bar, concocting what seemed to be some really strong gin and tonics. Though you will actually be charged on your bill for the snacks and liquor you take out of your hotel room mini fridge, breaking the plastic seal on the door still feels more like "raiding" to me. It brings me back to hotel stays during barely-chaperoned junior high and high school class trips when we would physically break the cheap locks on the mini bars and spend the evenings getting drunk on the little nip-bottles we didn't quite understand how to combine and mix.
Jeff suggested the idea of eating at The Odeon in the East Village which he (and Citysearch) described as a place that had "a decadent heyday during the hard-partying '80s." Since I can hardly resist anything that's decadent, hard-partying, or from the 1980s, I announced that I was game. Lee called to say that he and his girlfriend Brett would meet us there for dinner. The food was decent. I had an heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad (my two absolute favorites) followed by an entree of broiled scallops. Jeff had a steak. We debated and discussed San Francisco versus New York City versus Los Angeles.
After dinner Jeff and I went to the Stone Rose Lounge, a big airy bar inside the Time Warner Center with high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. We drank $17 martinis until about 2 in the morning. When arrived back to my hotel room, I couldn't sleep. Throughout the evening I kept calling the West-Coast-to-East-Coast time difference the "West Coast Advantage" to my friends, because it enabled me to easily party until dawn, but as I sat propped up on pillows in bed checking email on my laptop until 4 in the morning, it was clear that it wasn't quite an advantage. Especially since I needed to be at the Associated Press office by 8:45 a.m. for an all-day Flash class to learn how to build automated slideshows with audio soundtracks.
Wednesday night (umm, that'd be Thursday morning) I slept from 4:30 a.m. - 7:30 a.m., and I was still 10 minutes late for the class.
Though I generally have a strong aptitude for picking up computer applications, it was quickly apparent that I was the worst student in the Flash class. I had to ask the teacher to explain everything and show me everything personally one more time. I was pathetic. And, sadly I can't honestly blame my remedial status on the lack of sleep and amount of drinking. Between timeliness, layers, keyframes and tweening, Flash is a complicated program, and it can easily explode your head. Or, at least it can easily explode my head. I wasn't familiar with being the slowest student in the class, and consequently it was a very difficult day.
When I got back to my hotel room a little after 6 p.m., Lee called and told me he made 8:30 reservations at Bread Tribeca. "I made reservations for 4 of us," he said, "So you can bring one of your friends."
I was starving, and I wanted to make the phone calls to see if Sam or Dave had arrived in New York yet and extend an invitation to dinner, but first I needed to close my eyes and attempt to extend myself an invitation to an hour-long nap. I set the alarm on my cell phone, took off my clothes, put on a t-shirt and curled up under the covers.
As exhausted and drained as I was from a day spent inserting keyframes and creating tweens in Flash class, I closed my eyes but could not sleep. Still, I was determined to keep my head on the pillow. At 6:45 p.m. my phone rang, and I jumped out of bed to answer the call. It was my friend Sam who works on content programming for yahoo.com. He had arrived at the hotel and asked if I wanted to go grab some food. I invited him to dinner and quickly got back into bed to try to catch that elusive nap before it was too late.
Twenty minutes later my phone rang again. It was Dave from the Toronto office. He had already arrived and headed out to dinner by himself, but suggested that we meet up later for drinks. I tried for a third time to nap, but quickly gave up and turned on the TV and started changing back into my clothes.
Sam, Lee, Brett, and I had dinner at Bread Tribeca. The food was decent. I had cauliflower puree soup as a starter followed by linguine with clams. We also shared a few bottles of red wine.
After dinner Dave called and said, "I'm at a really fun karaoke bar in the East Village called Second on Second, you should come over here." It was approaching midnight, and as much as I love karaoke -- I wanted to head back closer to the hotel. I honestly every intention of getting to bed at a sober and decent hour. With that in mind, I asked Dave to meet Sam and me at the W hotel bar because it was the only thing I could think of.
During our cab ride to the W, Bill and Chris called. Bill was out with colleagues and asked me if I had talked to JB yet. I told him I hadn't but that I had left a message. I also told him that Sam and I were heading over to the W. Chris and the Yahoo! News team had just finished dinner and were wandering around Times Square near our hotel. I told them we were in a cab headed for the W. They said they might meet us there. Dave found Sam and I at the W, but by y 1:30 or 2, we hadn't seen Bill nor the Yahoo! News folks. We were wondering what to do when Bill phoned to say that he and JB were at a bar called Faces and Names near the Rihga hotel. We left the W to walk over to Faces and Names and phoned Chris and Ron on Yahoo! News to let them know. By 2:30 we were all hanging out together at Faces and Names.
By 3a.m. there was talk of heading back to the hotel. JB, Chris, Sam, Dave and I started the walk back, but were immediately seduced by the bright white lights of a neighborhood pizza place. JB ordered us a pie to go, then he and Dave went into the bodega nextdoor to pick up some beer while we waited for the pizza to be ready. We carried brown bags of pizza and beer back to the hotel and decided to continue the party in JB's room. I headed to my room to get Bocce since she had been cooped up in the hotel all day.
We ate pizza and drank beer until around 4 a.m. when we were kidnapped and gagged by guerilla marketers for Yahoo! News' Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone. Bocce liked the pizza, but didn't necessarily enjoy her time as a walking Hot Zone advertisement. At 4:30a.m. Sam and Dave headed to bed.
JB, Chris, and I took the dog outside for a walk, and Chris snapped action photos of me picking up Bocce's poop. Can you say poop-arazzi? I thought you could.
After all that excitement, Bocce and I decided it was time for bed.
The next day I attended some panels and prepared for my own. It went fairly well (you can listen to a portion of my talk), though afterward I wished I had talked more about content for podcasts than mostly just focusing on the how-tos.
After the ONA-sponsored cocktail hour where I met Mark Fiore, some folks from CBS News, Anj from Yahoo!s Toronto office and many others, we all headed back to our rooms to freshen up and then bundle up and agreed to meet up at 8:30 at South's in Tribeca where we would have some more drinks before our 9:45 dinner reservation at 66. While back in my hotel room, I decided to don my Jackie Kennedy outfit which I had packed in case an inkling of Halloween spirit hit me. Post-cocktail-hour I felt it was a great idea to wear a bright pink suit and pillbox hat even though none of my other compatriots were dressed in costume. This is how I roll.
Lee and Brett met Sam, Dave, Anj and I at South's. Then Bill showed up carrying an unopened container of marshmallow Fluff that he said he had brought for me. "I hope you're not implying that our Yahoo! Broadband Portal content is fluff!" I said giggling and grabbing the container of Fluff.
After a while, the Yahoo! News crew (Neil, Ron, Oren, Chris, Sarah, and Peter) arrived at South's, and we all walked down the block to 66. Jeff and his boyfriend Daniel were sitting in the lounge drinking cocktails when we arrived.
Sam -- who was just meeting Jeff for the first time -- commented: "It was obvious that Jeff had known you for years because when you walked into this chichi restaurant dressed as Jackie Kennedy and carrying a giant container of Fluff, he wasn't the slightest bit surprised."
At 10p.m., we found out the hard way that NYC reservations for big groups rarely start on time. At 10:30 p.m. we were drinking ginger margaritas in the lounge area and noshing on appetizers as we waited for our back room to be ready. By 11 p.m. (I think) we were seated for dinner at three tables in our own room. I was seated at the end of a table surrounded by my NYC friends. Daniel and Jeff were on my left, Lee and Brett on my right.
Before any of the food started arriving on the tables, Bill instigated the idea that he and I would open the container of Fluff and offer it around to the other tables. "Would you care for some fluff?" I said as I did my best 1960s stewardess impression. Our hard work and dedication paid off. We were triumphant. We managed to get nearly every person to try a spoonful of Fluff -- and several brave souls plunged their fingers right into the container. Others used chopsticks.
The barbarous and uncouth "Fluff course" of the meal mortified my black-clad NYC friends. Living in San Francisco for five years (and going to Burning Man five times) definitely enhanced my already overactive capacity for absurdity. If a group of twenty of my co-workers are giggling and sticking their fingers into their mouths -- in my mind it was a great ice-breaker. It was the least I could do.
Dinner ended sometime after midnight. Lee, Brett, and Daniel headed home and many of my co-workers decided to call it a night, but Jeff, Anj, Dave, Oren, Sarah, Ron, Chris, Mic, Peter and I ventured to Second on Second. We arrived, got ourselves some drinks and put our name in for karaoke to do Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Unfortunately the stack of song requests on the KJ's podium was enormous and we left to head back to the hotel before our name was called.
This time the late night after-party was in Ron and Chris' rooms. We drank beers from the mini bars and chatted as music played from Chris' laptop. He played Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths at my request. The TV was on playing an endless loop of Larry King interviewing commentators about the Libby indictment with the volume turned all the way down. It seemed certain that Chris and I will become fast friends. And Anj and me too. Even though we just met -- she and I were having a great time hanging out together. Sam, Dave and I are already pretty tight after working together for over 2 years. (Dave and I have even partied in London together on a work trip...)
On Saturday I attended a bunch more panels. My favorite was Digital Visual Storytelling, though the Saturday afternoon panel "Journalism 2010: Who's leading the way?" (which our own Neil Budde sat as a panelist on) was also quite interesting with its now-seemingly-obligatory and impassioned blogger versus "dinosaur" bashing. Afterward we went to the Reuters-sponsored cocktail party.
Then we headed to a bar in the East Village, where we smoked flavoured tobacco out of a giant hookah.
For dinner we went to Il Bagatto (on Jeff's excellent suggestion). I ate with Daniel and Jeff while unfortunately my starving co-workers (Sam, Ron, Anj and Chris) and their entourage of young journalism students were kept waiting at the bar for almost an hour (unacceptable!). Luckily, they made lemonaide from lemons and befriended the perky bartender (she gave Jeff and Daniel three olives each in their martinis!)
After dinner we wandered around the East Village spotting (and accosting) folks in Halloween costumes. There were even more Ali G's this year than last year (this Yahoo! one was my favorite). Then we went to KGB for some drinks amid Soviet paraphernalia. We got back to the hotel around 2:30 and I took Bocce for a walk and then went to bed. I seriously needed some sleep.
On Sunday morning I packed and checked out of the hotel, and took a cab to Park Slope Brooklyn to visit Jeff and Daniel at their apartment and meet their Great Dane puppy Ace. Ace is beautiful. He's sleek and gray. He's also HUGE! He weighs 125-pounds and is still growing. Jeff and Daniel say he will soon be 50 pounds larger. Unfortunately it was difficult-if-not-impossible for 12-pound middle-aged Bocce to play with a teenage dog who was ten times(!) her size. Jeff and Daniel made us brunch of pumpkin pancakes, eggs, bacon, and Daniel's homemade (from scratch!) pumpkin pie. It was awesome. And then I got in a car to head back to JFK to fly home.
I'm sorry I didn't meet my personal songwriter Jeremy Abbate, but I'm psyched that I ended up getting my photo displayed in lights on the huge Reuters screen in Times Square (thanks Sarah!)
P.S. Almost all photos I'm linking to in this post were taken by Chris Sarah, Ron, and Jeff as I left my camera behind this time...
posted by Jess Barron @ 11:20 AM
|August 26, 2005||22 Hours in Los Angeles, 2 Hours in a Karaoke Booth|
22 hours in Los Angeles
3 hours in meetings
2 hours in a karaoke booth
Allyson, Heather and I flew down to Los Angeles for 22 hours to meet with our Yahoo! co-workers on the entertainment, music, and news teams to discuss all the exciting upcoming content which, of course, I can't tell you about. But I assure you it's cool stuff.
Since I always like to begin any excursion or adventure well-rested (ummm, who am I kidding? perhaps well-caffeinated, or maybe well-dressed), I started the day yesterday on 3.5 hours of sleep because I was down in Sunnyvale at 5a.m. to do some East Coast radio interviews for Yahoo! Buzz on my office landline. (My housemates and I don't have a landline phone at our house and it seems ridiculous to sign up for one when I'm moving to LA in just 2 months.)
The highlight of our trip down south was definitely the 2 hours we spent with Laura, Richard, and Chris in an Asian-style (private room) karaoke place off of Sawtelle in West Los Angeles. I would pay at least $35 for an mp3 recording of our sextet's (the use of this word makes our behavior sound more debaucherous) awesomely-outrageous rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." It certainly brought a tear to my eye. Similarly, witnessing the tortured magic of Chris and Laura's spontaneous and unplanned performance of Akon's "Lonely" can hardly be described. Thankfully, Heather took some photos of it all, and we can console ourselves that soon she will be posting them to flickr.
postscript: Here's Heather's flickr photoset.
posted by Jess Barron @ 2:53 PM
|May 11, 2004||You Should Get to Bed|
I was choking on a cornflake
You said, "Have some toast instead."
I was sleeping maybe three hours
You said, "You should get to bed."
-belle & sebastian, "Stay Loose" (my favorite song off of 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' which is still a pretty damn near perfect album, if you ask me.)
A lot of days this spring had belle & sebastian soundtracks and the sun has been so warm and all the colors look so highly saturated, and as a cute boy I know has said, "It just seems like everything's going faster when you're in a convertible." It's true, and also you can smell the jasmine and eucalyptus trees.
You prolly think I've been neglecting my blog 'cause I've been off in love or something like that running around, having fun. Well if you bet on that, you're only half right. I've been working whack amounts -- we're talking 70-80 hour weeks for the past few months. Basically, I'm working on work for almost all of my waking hours. It's pretty insane. No lunch breaks, and no blog breaks.
In fact right now, it's 2:30a.m., and there's a boy in my bed trying to sleep, and I'm typing on my laptop propped on the pillow 'cause I'm so caffeinated/agitated that I can't sleep (I got home from the office at midnight), and I need to be online starting work again at 6:30a.m. in just 4 hours. It's vicious. I'm also suffering from tendonitis in my wrists from too many work hours spent using my keyboard/mouse. I hafta wear big, hard plastic wrist braces to bed to help my hands get proper blood circulation. They're hot, lemme tell ya. I sense a new fetish will be created around these things, as more and more tech workers need to wear them.
But somehow, I've still been managing to have some fun. It's just sleep I'm lacking.
For Owen's 30th birthday, our housemate Ric built a 9-hole mini-golf course inside our apartment. See, it was pretty freakin' impressive. Here's a drunken video we shot of the mini golf mayhem. And then lots of people came over and we played pac man drank lots of beer and sangria and ate copious and plentiful meats augmented by cotton candy (brought by Mindy) and a fabulous birthday cake (brought by Bethany).
I saw my favorite show yet -- belle & sebastian at the Warfield on April 30. The accoustics in that venue are amazing! They sounded like velvet. And, appropriately, they performed (a pretty much impromptu) cover of one of my favorite Velvet Underground songs, "I'll be Your Mirror." (A boy in the audience said that it was his birthday, so they offered to play him a song. They asked what his name was, and the boy said "Nico." So, they started into the Velvet Underground cover for him.) Bobby has amazing stage presence and charisma without being too contrived. When he said, "I hope you all realize how lucky you are to live in this town. We love visiting this place," he really meant it -- they talked about Pac Bell Park and baseball games, and then launched into "Piazza, New York Catcher" with its San Francisco-themed lyrics. They also played my all-time favorite b&s song "Sleep the Clock Around" off of 'Boy With the Arab Strap.' I first heard it years ago when Jeff put it on a mix tape for me, and I've never gotten even a tiny bit sick of it.
One of my friends from Vassar days, Jon Swerdloff, visited California for the first time (from NYC) last month, and we spent some time at the end of April hanging out -- I showed him around the city and took him to wine country.
For Daniel's birthday, Mici threw him a surprise party at the Ebb Tide. I fell asleep (damn work!) and missed the beginning part, but everyone said he was really surprised. Mici did a kick-ass job. Everyone had fun. And then Daniel gave Mici a kiss.
Oh, and I must be getting sleepy, 'cause I almost forgot about the karaoke with the live band at El Rio. Allyson took pictures that made me look like Jack White.
posted by Jess Barron @ 2:31 AM